Local business owner camps out every night to protect his investment
A local business owner says he's forced to camp on his property every night to prevent thieves from stealing his tools.
At the start of tire season this spring, Greg Wuitschick, owner of Alaska Tire World and Greg's Auto Works, was robbed.
His primary tools were taken from his tire lot on Petersburg Street off Dowling Avenue. Crime has been on the rise, according to Greg, over the past two years. Having his tools taken was his breaking point.
"They stole all my impacts out of my shop one week before tire season," Wuitschick said. "I had to go buy all of that stuff again. I’m just working, I’m not a millionaire, I’m just a working guy. I work right next to my guys."
Greg decided drastic measures had to be taken if he was going to be able to make ends meet.
"So now I have been forced to sleep here at night and do my own patrols," Wuitschick said. "This is what I have to do to protect myself and my job and my livelihood to pay for my family."
What makes matters worse for Greg is his wife's health at home.
"I’m not home because of all of this," Wuitschick said. "My wife has one percent kidney function and she’s on a dialysis machine and I need to be there but here. If I can’t pay the rent then where does it leave me? Then there is no roof over our heads. So I have to stay around here and more or less protect what I have."
Six days a week, Greg locks his office door, then his outside gate at the end of the work day. He heads home for a quick dinner and to check on his wife and then heads back to his lot to watch over his belongings for the night. He sleeps in a small pop-up camper equipped with a small heater, television and his handgun. He blames Senate Bill 91 for the increase in crime over the past two years and feels the faster it's fixed that faster he'll be able to live a normal life again.
"Anchorage is under siege by thieves who know about this horrible law," Wuitschick said. "Criminals know they’re not going to go to jail, so what if the cop catches them? SB91 has to go, I don’t know the answer to SB91, but I do know that it is not working, that’s what I do know."
Wuitschick says he's reached out to his State Representative Charisse Millett and Senator Kevin Meyer. Both of whom Wuitschick says, have been his only sources to get current information on SB91.
"I want to thank them for their help," Wuitschick said. "It's a slow process, and in the meantime, I have to do what I have to do."
Wuitschick says every business on his street has been robbed or vandalized more than once. Wuitschick says he's getting pretty good at putting up and fixing fence and barbwire.
"I’ve got reinforced fencing, I’ve got barb wire, I’ve got razor wire," Wuitschick said. "I've got eight cameras around the property. I caught one guy red-handed a couple weeks ago. He was trying to carry away tires on the handlebars of his bike. It’s hair-raising, can you imagine that, in the middle of the night when you are sleeping here? Plus, the constant gunshots?"
Wuitschick doesn't know how long he'll be sleeping in his pop-up camper during the nights or when he'll be able to have a normal night at home with his wife again. He was approached by the Anchorage Citizens Militia. The militia is a band of community members that perform nightly patrols on areas of Anchorage that have been hit hard by crime.
"They said they'd patrol this area for me so I could go home," Wuitschick said. "They seem trustworthy. I just don't know what to do or who to trust. I'd be nice to be home, but at this point, I think I'd still worry too much."
Wuitschick is looking at every option as it pertains to his family and his future.
"If I could sell this place I would," Wuitschick said. "I'd sell it for half of what it's worth. It's just not worth it anymore. This isn't the Alaska I grew up in."
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